How one phone call changed Lions star’s life
It was the phone call that changed a young man's life and ultimately altered the destiny of a football club, too.
Harris Andrews is a captain-in-waiting at the Lions but throughout Year 11 he was a bit lost. His mum Wendy was urging him to knuckle down with his studies and he was kicking around the idea of being a teacher.
All he really wanted to do was play footy.
The problem was while most draft hopefuls are on the radar of AFL clubs from the age of 16, no one was watching the kid from Aspley that closely.
A call from Mark Perkins, the footy manager at the Aspley Hornets and a close family friend, to the head of the Brisbane Lions academy, Luke Curran, changed that.
Andrews was in the middle of an 80-goal season for the Hornet's Colts and Perkins was convinced he was an AFL player in the making.
"I remember ringing Luke Curran saying 'you need to have a look at this kid','' Perkins said.
"So I like to think I had a bit of input into it. I certainly don't mind suggesting to Harris that he owes me a little kickback there from all the money he's going to make as an AFL star.''
Incredibly, Andrews had never made a state team through under 12s, 14s and 16s, so while some of those kids join the Lions academy at 12, he had never been in the program.
Curran is happy to admit the pestering from Perkins sparked his interest and reckons one game was enough to convince him that when the academy started its pre-season that November, Andrews had to be there.
"Perko said we've got this tall kid who is going OK and when I saw him first-hand, I thought he's going better than OK,'' he said.
"We invited him (to the academy) at the end of his 17th year and then 12 months later he was drafted. It really was a whirlwind for him.''
At that point, trialling for the academy was Andrews' career highlight and parents Wayne and Wendy were thrilled for their son.
"We see kids and their families who have come through the system and it is almost ordained, they have been conditioned for the journey. But the way it happened to Harris was different, so everything has been a delight,'' Wayne said.
"I tell the story when he got invited along to a Lions talent identification day there was about 80 kids and on the day they would cull it by half, and those that made it would be invited back the following weekend.
"He was just hoping that he would make that 40 cut and Wendy and I thought if he got through that cut, how exciting that would be for him.
"He has become a great footballer but as parents we are just really proud of the person he is. He has time for everyone and he is really appreciative of everything that has happened to him.''
Andrews, who would turn 17 over that pre-season, made the cut and it didn't take him long under Brisbane's noses to make them sit up and take notice.
The Lions footy manager, Dean Warren, remembers watching him play as a top-up for the Lions in the NEAFL against Northern Territory at the Gabba that year.
"I said to Leppa (coach Justin Leppitsch) this kid is going to be a star,'' he said.
"His 18th year was extraordinary and he went from strength to strength from there.''
Warren, now CEO of AFLQ, said the Andrews' story has become an unofficial part of the coaching manual in Queensland footy.
"We talk about Harris all the time because it is a great story for coaches to tell kids, if you are not in at 12, 14 or 16, you just keep persevering,'' he said.
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